🚙 Scottish-made 4x4, Trojan Energy, Penrhos Bio, Crover, Failure, and Automated Legal Platforms
Here's your Campfire for the 6th of November, 2023. Find today's deep dive on automated legal platforms below.
💼 This issue of Campfire is sponsored by Shepherd and Wedderburn's initiative to supercharge start-ups and scale-ups. Be sure to follow the Start to Scale LinkedIn page for useful videos and posts designed to help founders.
🌀 Failure is Constant
By Robert Gelb
As founders, we talk about celebrating failure a lot. From F**k up nights to manicured LinkedIn posts, we are told that failure should be celebrated and de-stigmatised.
When it suits, celebrating failure can add to your image as showing vulnerability, being brave, and other such honourable accolades.
But failure shared in the right way isn't about any of that. It's about valuing the efficiency of a learning loop. If I've wasted a bunch of time and effort trying to do something, I might save you a similar amount of time and effort so that you can avoid my pitfalls and do a better job.
This happens quite a bit in the startup world, and it's an important process for any founder to not only understand but actively seek out.
It doesn't happen very often in the startup support ecosystem world. You'll rarely find folks willing to talk publicly about what hasn't worked.
Part of the problem is an issue with self-perception and perceived reputation damage, and part of it is because goals and KPIs are often lightly defined which makes it difficult to clearly say you've not been successful. Because of competition for various funding pots, there is a perceived notion that you'll only get funded if everything is going right.
So because Campfire is a publication for founders, but is part of the support ecosystem, I'd like to talk about two failures we've had recently:
The Founders' Survey
Last year's survey was successful. We had a large number of founders fill it out, it was written up in the press, and seemed to be of general interest to the wider community. The private feedback provided to the investors who were evaluated seemed to be valued. This year we simplified the questions, sent it to more people, and were hopeful we'd get even more responses.
We only got 29 individual responses with 51 investor reviews. Not great. There's still a bunch of value in those responses that we'll be sure to write about in a report, but as far as surveys go, it's not to the degree where you can take a huge amount of insight with statistical relevance.
So what happened?
While we're not sure yet, it could have been a few things:
We could have sent more emails to investors earlier encouraging them to share with their portfolios, and should have followed up more
We should have posted about it on LinkedIn more actively
It was extended and left open for too long. We opened it back at the end of August, and the majority of responses came in the last week when we said it was closing
There are a few large support organisations who shared it last year with their audience however chose not to this time
It also might just not be something that founders value very much. Sometimes it can be just as simple as that. We're all busy, and no one likes a survey, and we need fewer of them in our lives. If that's the case, perhaps this is one of those unnecessary ones.
If you are a founder who didn't fill it out and have feedback about the survey, our approach, etc, I'd value hearing it.
The Ecosystem Fund
To be honest I'm conflicted about whether or not to even apply for public money for anything to do with ecosystem support stuff. I think the Scottish startup support ecosystem has a problem with too much uninformed noise (Campfire might be adding to that and it's going to impact how we think about it going forward).
However, the fund was positioned as being open to support new initiatives coming from founders and subject-matter experts and not just from ecosystem support orgs, so we put in for a few pilot projects that were directly taken from founders' own requests. They included:
3 Rapid Ascent Sprints: week-long cohorts of startup founders who were interested in a relatively niche subject so they'd rapidly get up to speed. The first one was about what power venture investment is (as opposed to regional VC or other types); the structures, process, and mentality needed to approach it; determining if it's a path that's actually right for your business; and how to run a transatlantic round. We were going to host VCs from the UK and US to help 'tell it like it is' and give practical no BS takes on what's needed to succeed.
Founders helping founders: Day long mini conference where founders would take 15 minute slots teaching other founders a subject that was hyper relevant. Everything from growing to your first 100k followers on TikTok to ISO 27001 strategies. Really niche, really focused.
Startup weekend-style events (3 cities and online) targeting women who might have a subject-matter expertise and are curious about building a startup but don't have experience in that world. Teams would be formed, and a mini design sprint would take place where they could experience how to approach discovering problems, iterating on ideas and pitching solutions.
We weren't successful. While no feedback was given, my guess is that it will be because of one of a number (or combination) of reasons:
Too niche, not enough 'creating value for the largest number of people'
A perception that these subjects are already catered to by other initiatives
If the idea was good, there might be a feeling that others would be better able to execute on the idea than us
We were asking for too much money, or suggesting we'd be delivering too much for the expected budget
Our applications might have just been a bit shit
The winners have been announced (linked below) - and it looks like there is quite a bit of variety. I'll be curious to see how these pilots go and what outcomes the wider ecosystem can take forward.
If you're reading this and you run an ecosystem support org, I'd encourage you to share something that didn't work. We need a more open arena if we want to improve. Failure is learning, and learning should be constant.
🌊 Updates & Opinions
🔌 Aberdeen-based Trojan Energy (sidewalk electric vehicle charging flush with the ground) received a £500k grant from the Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund. DGT
🛁 Penrhos Bio (cleantech biosciences working on among other things, sustainable alternatives to disinfectants) raised a £3m Series A round from Eos Advisory, Earthbound Brands LLC, Scottish Enterprise, and existing investors. DGT ACS
🚙 The first Scottish-made SUV 4x4 EVs from Munro Vehicles have left the production line. It's the first light vehicle manufacturing taking place in Scotland since 1981. They apparently have 250 pre-orders. Find their crowdfunding round here. IN
😤 Who said progress? 72% of women in tech roles have experienced at least one form of sexism at work. The survey from the Fawcett Society also found that 43% of women in the tech sector think about leaving their role at least once a week and 1 in 5 men working in tech roles believe that women are naturally less suited to working in the sector. Full report. DGT (Headline wrong)
™️ Alan Rae writes an article about the importance of IP (and provides some fun examples), both in protecting yours and being mindful of others'. TS
💰 The Scottish Gov's Ecosystem Fund (£1.6m) and Pre-start Pathways Fund (£1.3m) winners have been announced, including pilot events and resources surrounding investment, regional incubators, funded travel for entrepreneurs, and initiatives targeting potential entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds. See the full list here. SFN DGT IN
💡 The Scottish EDGE finalists have been announced including a robotic platform to aid older adults, a digital cask register, a biotech startup developing ways to make gluten free bread made from wheat, and more. View the full list here. IN
📣 Asks & Offers
👭 Interested in connecting with possible co-founders? Fill in your listing on Cofounder Curious today! Connect with others for possible cofounder matching here.
✍️ Want to write something for Campfire? Have an opinion you'd like to share? get in touch!
🦸 The Deep Dive: Automated Legal Platforms
By Robert Gelb
This is part three of a series about simple things you can do early to save time and money later when planning your first fundraise written in partnership with Shepherd & Wedderburn.
As someone who is notoriously cheap when it comes to spending money in the early days of a venture, I'm not going to lie, legals is something that fits into the Venn diagram of 'stuff I know I need' and 'stuff I really don't want to pay for'.
Writing that statement lays bare my contradiction, and one that I know many of you share. Into that gap comes automated legal platforms! These magic tools that, for a few bucks and after a few questions, can spit out magical docs that solve all your issues. Who needs a lawyer?
Their response surprised me. "If you are wanting to use [insert legal tool of your choice] for exactly what it's designed for, it can be an efficient way to get relevant documentation done cheaply." 🤯
Stephen continued, "You want to be spending money on building your MVP and not lawyers. We don't want to be taking fees from companies who can't pay, we want to help them get on with building their company."
They even have automated platforms they built themselves (who knew lawyers coded!) including Start to Scale Hub (for start-ups and scale ups) and Xpress Legals (for Series A investments). For instance, when working with Bella and Duke, a D2C pet-food brand, they entered a few bits of information, and their system produced a term sheet and investment documents. All grounded on legal docs designed for maximum compatibility for future funding rounds.
The issues to keep in mind when you consider using automated services mostly come down to two things: inflexibility and possible future costly corrections.
Automated platforms provide a perfectly acceptable set of tools if you're familiar with how they work and what they mean. If your goal is to get something in place so you can get up and running and that's the extent of your ambition, then crack on. If you're anticipating additional funding requirements or expansion, then it might be another story.
Many of these platforms don't do a great job at anticipating future financing requirements or an ultimate exit, so if there are additional clauses or language that's missing, it becomes extremely difficult (for difficult, read expensive) to achieve your financing or exit. Stephen and John gave a number of examples, which you’d often overlook when using these platforms, such as how to value non-cash consideration on an exit.
Their inherent efficiency is also often their Achilles heel: when something needs entering that comes from a drop-down, oftentimes you lack the context in which it's being dropped into the documents, or it might leave something critical out entirely.
For example, if you want to amend the document and the document doesn't have a clear guideline for how to amend it, , you will have to fall back into requiring unanimous approval to amend. And so that gives individual shareholders, angels, shareholders, an ability to block growth because they're able to block future financing (as an example).
An automated platform is only ever as good as the legals that sit behind it and the user's familiarity with using it. If you don't have both of those, then you open yourself up to some costly fixes down the road.
It's amazing how not taking inexpensive advice at the start can lead to advice that's much more expensive later on if things aren't done correctly. VC funds will identify the gaps and those unfortunately cost their founders thousands of extra pounds because they have to unpick automated docs that failed to cover certain things off or be written in a way that wasn't going to cause headaches later on. In many cases these docs have to be completely re-written, requiring various consent forms and other hassles.
When to consider
That's not to say you need a lawyer in all cases. In some areas it's absolutely fine to use an automated platform. Things like NDAs and other very simple documents work well when it comes to automated platforms. When it comes to managing investment rounds, things can get more complicated. Using a lawyer in the early stages, or using a lawyer to help you navigate an automated platform can save lots of headache (and heartburn) later on.
If you do have a background in these types of agreements, using automated tools can be a time saver. But if you're a founder and not a lawyer, it's often quite hard to know what you don't know. Working with a firm that can offer an efficient and cost-effective process might be a bit pricier in the short term, but will save you later.
Automated tools are tools, not solutions. Remember to think through the total cost of getting legals done right, not just now, but the impact they might have in the future as you grow.
Stay tuned for part four: raising in the US.
Shepherd & Wedderburn's innovative and personable approach helps companies from first incorporation onwards (including through to an exit – if that’s the goal). Their global reach means they can scale and grow with you, like they have with clients like Epic Games, FanDuel, TwoBigEars, Optoscribe and TVSquared.
👉 To learn more, check out the Start to Scale LinkedIn page for useful videos and posts designed to help early stage founders and send an email email@example.com & set up a chat.
⚖️ 06/11, 14:00 🗺️ Online: CSO & Techscaler Partnership Webinar: Techscaler and the CSO Regional Innovation Hubs are embarking on a new collaboration to inspire NHS colleagues, startups and life science academics alike to get involved and find solutions for the biggest health challenges. MORE INFO
🤓 06/11, 17:30 🗺️ Edinburgh: Tech Meetup: The Tech Meetup is a monthly excuse for the tech community around Scotland to network, learn and share new ideas (with free pizza & beers)! MORE INFO
⛓️ 06/11, 19:00 🗺️ Dundee: Monthly Scottish Blockchain Meetup: Web3 gaming + Networking, dinner & drinks: Welcome to the Monthly Scottish Blockchain Meetup - this time at the Abertay cyberQuarter in Dundee, that is a co-host of the event. MORE INFO
🧠 07/11, 09:00 🗺️ Glasgow: CAN DO Innovation Summit 2023: For the 2023 Edition, we’ll be exploring the rapid advances towards a tech-driven, sustainable and virtual future for SMEs and Start-ups in all sectors. Our peer-led industry sessions offer practical insights on how new technologies, great leadership and the right business cultures can help tackle the challenges we are facing in industry and society. MORE INFO
🌆 07/11, 10:00 🗺️Dundee: Tay Cities Region Deal: Digital Skills Project Launch: This in-person event is your chance to delve into the world of digital skills and discuss how we can work collaboratively across business, education, the third and public sector to meet the skills needs for the region. MORE INFO
👔 07/11, 16:00 🗺️ Edinburgh: Hiring to Scale: MBM Commercial, Barclays Wealth and Barclays Eagle Labs have come together to for an exciting series where we dive deep into the world of scaling your team! Whether you're a startup or an established company, finding and hiring the right talent can be a daunting task. But fear not! Our event series is here to guide you through the process, providing valuable insights and practical tips. MORE INFO
🚑 08/11, 08:45 🗺️ Glasgow: Living Laboratory Healthcare Innovation Conference: Join the University of Glasgow’s Living Laboratory for Precision Medicine at its Healthcare Innovation Conference. The event will bring together a mixture of delegates from across academia, industry, and healthcare to explore the exciting possibilities and current challenges of healthcare innovations. MORE INFO
🏴☠️ 08/11, 09:00 🗺️ Dundee: Get Hacktive - Ethical Hackathon Challenge: Join us for a one-day Hackathon where you will get the opportunity to work on live Cyber Crime challenges and create innovative solutions that enhance security in our communities to support Police Scotland. MORE INFO
🤝 08/11, 09:30 🗺️ Dumfries: Coworking Day [South of Scotland]: We're hosting these coworking days every Wednesday from 25th October - 13th December 2023, where you can join us for startup chat, networking, and to get to know you local tech-curious peers. MORE INFO
🌋 08/11, 12:00 🗺️ Inverness: AccelerateHER + Techscaler Meetup: Highlands and Islands: The AccelerateHERand Techscaler by CodeBase teams are excited to be joining forces in bringing dedicated meetups to life across Scotland for this community and peer-support building activity to grow. Meetups where you can come together, hear inspiring stories from fellow women and non-binary founders, and connect for ongoing peer-support. MORE INFO
🚄 08/11, 09:30 🗺️ Edinburgh: Speed Networking for Startups: This event is for anyone involved in the startup community who is interested in meeting new people from the community. MORE INFO
💊 09/11, 08:30 🗺️ Edinburgh: Edinburgh Medtech Forum: Come join us for our second Edinburgh Medtech Forums meeting! We will be joined by our guest speaker Dr Matt Freer, CEO of Infix Support Ltd who will share his experience of funding and growing a successful innovative startup and selling into the NHS. MORE INFO
👥 09/11, 12:00 🗺️ Aberdeen: AccelerateHER + Techscaler Meetup: Aberdeen: Our AccelerateHER+ TechscalerMeetup will be a space where you can come together, hear inspiring stories from fellow women and non-binary founders, and connect for ongoing peer-support. The Aberdeen event is hosted by AccelerateHER and Techscaler, as part of their nation-wide series of dedicated meetups helping peer-support building activity to grow. MORE INFO
💬 09/11, 16:00 🗺️ Dundee: Games Start-Up Journey: Let’s Talk About Inclusivity: Discover essential tips to adopt diversity in your team, learn how to create games that resonate with all audiences, and foster an inclusive gaming environment that celebrates differences! MORE INFO
⛓️ 09/11, 17:00 🗺️ Edinburgh: Monthly Scottish Blockchain Meetup: Welcome to the Monthly Scottish Blockchain Meetup in CodeBase!. MORE INFO
🌍 09/11, 17:00 🗺️ Glasgow: People, Planet, Pint: Sustainability Meetup: Pop down to your local People Planet Pint meetup to find more about what's going on locally with sustainability and how you can get involved. MORE INFO
🚶♀️ 10/11, 13:30 🗺️ Edinburgh: Netwalking - November sun! By Barclays Eagle Labs: Join this Mindful Netwalking experience: Meet other Founders, enjoying the healthy way to network, inspired by a gentle walk. MORE INFO
📈 14/11, 16:00 🗺️ Edinburgh: Hiring to Scale: Attracting Talent: How to get the right candidates, employee retention, getting the pay levels right, Panelists: Michelle Lownie, CEO @ Eden Scott; Alex Lamley, Partner @MBM Commercial; Colin Hewitt CEO & Co-Founder @Float; Sean McGrath CEO @Entrepreneurial Scotland. MORE INFO
👷♀️ 14/11, 13:00 🗺️ Dundee: Commercialising Tech Innovation: The aim of this event is to expose our staff, students, graduate network, and our ever-growing Tech community to opportunities that will allow them to commercialise tech research, products, or services. MORE INFO
🕹️ Series: Games Talk Live: A series of short talks interspersed with general networking over 3 days across Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow to encourage collaboration and communication between local games developers, and networking with visiting publishers and guests.
🎮 14/11, 18:00 🗺️ Edinburgh: MORE INFO
👾 15/11, 18:00 🗺️ Dundee: MORE INFO
🕹️ 16/11, 18:00 🗺️ Glasgow: MORE INFO
🎨 15/11, 09:00 🗺️ Edinburgh: Startup Grind Marketing Planning Workshop: Join this marketing workshop, curated for Startup Founders and Leaders, where we will help you shape your thinking for your 2024 Marketing Plan! MORE INFO
💻 15/11, 09:30 🗺️ Dumfries: Coworking Day [South of Scotland]: We’re excited to invite our tech and business community, and anyone wishing to connect with our local community to our coworking days, taking place at Flourish in Dumfries. MORE INFO
🤓 15/11, 18:30 🗺️ Stirling: Tech Meetup Stirling: This month the talk will be "Empowering Mobile Development Using Flutter/Dart" by Karam Helmi. MORE INFO
🇺🇸 16/11, 16:00 🗺️ Online: Office Hours: Approaching the US Market: Meet Kevin A. Malecek, a delegate from the City of Mentor (Ohio) for advice and guidance on the best practices on approaching the US market. MORE INFO
🌉 16/11, 17:30 🗺️ Glasgow: Bridging Communities: In collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University, The Melting Pot and some of the city's most engaged community builders, we are offering another chance to gather, connect and make a little magic happen. MORE INFO
📦 17/11, 17:30 🗺️ Edinburgh: ProductTank Edinburgh: End of Year Celebration: Join us for a festive and fun-filled evening as we gather to wrap up an incredible year of ProductTank Edinburgh meetups! This is a chance for our vibrant community to come together, reflect on the milestones we've achieved, and shape the future of our meetups. MORE INFO
💻 21/11, 08:30 🗺️ Edinburgh: Digital Scotland 2023: DigitalScotland is the largest annual gathering of public sector technology professionals, where global govtech leaders share technology insights and lessons in digital transformation, leadership, skills, cultural change and data-driven innovation. MORE INFO
🇬🇧 Upcoming Innovate UK deadlines:
Collaborative AI Solutions to improve productivity in key sectors Applications close 8 November
MyWorld Collaborative Research and Development: Round 2 Applications close 23 November
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That’s all for this week - have a great one!